Based on the novel “The Wettest Country in the World” by Matt Bondurant, Lawless tells the real life tale of the authors grandfather Jack (Shia LaBeouf) and his two elder brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy)and Howard Bondurant (Jason Clarke). Set in probation era, the three brothers made and sold moonshine to everyone in Franklin County. That is till the arrival of Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) and threatens the brothers and their business. Pearce puts on a creepy performance as the villain with no eyebrows, that is the most colourful here. With his pristine attire and fondness for cleanliness, all the while keeping a sense of dark menace that unnerves.
Told from Jack’s perspective, LaBeouf is less annoying than usual in the lead role as the younger brother trying to step out of his brothers shadows and become a man equal to his elder siblings. Eager to impress, much like LaBeouf here, he craves to get in on the action and not just driving them around and sweeping the floors, while attempting to win the heart of Bertha. Played my Mia Wakikowska, Bertha the local preacher’s daughter, witch clashes with Jacks life style. It’s a role that we have all seen before and Wakikowska is given little to do, but does a great job with the material in hand. The films focus is scatty at times leaving some parts under written. The role of Howard for instance felts under written in comparison, Clarke does a fine job but never really gets his moment to shine. I guess that the problem when your film is filled with the actors Lawless has, not everyone can get a fair look in. Dane DeHaan is an actor lost amongst the list of stars, however he is a integral part of the story as Jack’s best friend and technical brain, Cricket. DeHaan who stared in this years surprise hit Chronicle, holds his own with his cast mates. Gary Oldman features as Floyd Banner in what is an extended cameo. Oldman fans feel short changed with his name plastered all over the posters, although Olman has the screen presence that holds the importance at Banner has in the plot.
Jessica Chastain is very good as always as Maggie, a stripper from Chicago who is hired as an waitress working for the Bondurant”s with a keen eye for Forrest. Her part is subtle amonst a male dominated cast, but Chastain captivates and is utterly convincing. The star of the show is Hardy as Forrest. Rocking the cardigen look while grunting and growling his way through his lines, he has a dimanc screen presence. Armed with a fresh approch to this kind of role, he plays Forrest as the mother of the family, as suppose to typical hard ass ganster roles. Not to say that he his any less intimidating. Hardy plays it quite and retireing before exploding in an act of extreme bloody violence. The film doesn’t shy away from these moments and earns it’s 18 certificate in the few key scenes. John Hillcoat directs as the tension mounts up against the gorgeous rural backdrop, adding his sense of grit and detail. Beautifully shot by Benoît Delhomme and containing a brilliant music score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, mixing bluegrass with post punk, Lawless is an tad uneven by an enjoyable ride.